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Peril of Cancer in Nepal

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March 7, 2017

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If cancer is treated after it is complex, medical costs are high, and there is low chance of recovery

–Chhatra Karki

It has been found that most of the cancer patients in Nepal visit hospital only when complexities increase and the disease enters into final stage. According to Department of health of Nepal, about 80% of cancer patients consult  doctor for treatment when the disease enters the advance stage. There is low trend of performing initial health checkup and consulting the physician immediately in case of any problems. If cancer is treated after it is complex, medical costs are high, and there is low chance of recovery.

Eventhough cancer is non-communicable complex disease, physicians claim that it can be cured if it is diagnosed and treated in early stage. Dr. C.B  Pun,  Executive Director of  Bharatpur Cancer  Hospital  says,”Most of the people don’t go for whole body checkup at least one time annually. The trend of looking for treatment only when disease becomes multifarious has made the problem ghastly.”

Changing  lifestyles  and the various reasons including tobacco are adding new patients of cancer every year. According to Dr. Pun, every year  30,000 new patients of cancer are added all over the country. Among them, only about 10,000 visit hospital for treatment. According to Bharatpur Cancer Hospital, most of the cancer patients in Nepal suffer from cancer of lungs, breast, cervix and abdomen. In Nepal, men mostly suffer from lung cancer, whereas women  mostly suffer from cervix cancer. Due to illiteracy and lack of personal hygiene & regular checkup, different types of cancer has been found in 45% men and 55% women of Nepal. “In comparison, women become victim of cancer  than men. Smoking, alcohol consumption, pesticides, obesity, infection, unhealthy lifestyle and food habits etc. help to increase cancer patients in Nepal,” Dr. Pun addes.

Looking at the pace of addition of cancer patients in Nepal, it is required to make service effective by adding number of hospitals and health centers. “Since people in rural parts of Nepal don’t have access to health services, they can’t do regular health check ups on time,” Pun says. According to the Physicians, Even in the Places with sophisticated health systems and services, cancer patients come for treatment during final stages and thus successful treatment is very hard.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), 8.8 million people worldwide died due to cancer in 2015. Out of them, 70% were from the low and middle income countries. Those countries don’t have enough resources and health workers for effective treatment of cancer. Only 30% of countries with low income have access to diagnosis and treatment of cancer, whereas rest of the counties don’t have such access. Worldwide, about 13% patients die of cancer. Among them, 270,000 women die due to cervix cancer. One out of 6 deaths in the world is due to cancer. 14 million new cancer patients are added annually worldwide and this figure is estimated to reach 21 million by 2030.

On occasion of this year’s  World Cancer Day, WHO has released a new directives focusing on how the cancer patients can be saved . For the very purpose, it has emphasized on diagnosis and treatment of disease on early stage and providing enough and effective treatment by ensuring health services. If all nations implement new WHO Directives, cancer, especially breast, cervix and abdomen cancer can be effectively treated. If it is done, many cancer patients’ lives can be saved and cancer treatment becomes less costly.

Sustainable Development Goal-3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages includes the specific target: to reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being, by 2030.’ One of the key means of implementing this  is: to strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. For this purpose, most of  the nations aim to reduce decrease death due to cancer and other non-communicable diseases by  one third. Many nations including Nepal have expressed commitment towards this goal.

Caution, early diagnosis and testing, and treatment  are necessary to control cancer in large scale. Experts claim that the controlling in tobacco  consumption can help to reduce cancer fatality. According to WHO, Tobacco use is the major cause of cancer globally. Cigars, pipes, and bidis smoking also cause cancer. All these forms of smokeless tobacco cause cancers – of the mouth, gullet and pancreas.

“Tobacco products’ consumption cause deaths of more than 20% of cancer patients. These products not only increase lung cancer, but also help to increase  other types of cancer. These products are playing main role in increasing mortality rate in countries with low and medium income,” Anne Jones , senior tobacco control expert with the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union) says.

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